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Welcome to AADL's local history page!

We have a large local history collection located on the second floor of the Downtown Library where you'll find a variety of sources for genealogy research. We've also produced several online collections you may be interested in, including...

50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair The 50 year history of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair including an exhibit on the path the Art Fair has taken, a collection of over 100 images including photos and promotional materials, audio memories of art fair participants and visitors, and videos.
Ann Arbor Architecture Archive Learn the history of the buildings around us with this gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures. Includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Minutes A chance to view the history of Ann Arbor through the eyes of its governing body. Search the full text of Ann Arbor City Council meeting minutes from 1891-1930 or browse available meetings. All sets of minutes can be viewed as images or as searchable pdfs.
Ann Arbor Cooks Online collection of heirloom recipes and cookbooks from Ann Arbor area community organizations, churches and businesses. Browse or search recipes, or view cookbooks in their entirety. Includes access to Repast, the acclaimed culinary history magazine.
AACHM Living Oral History An oral history project in partnership with the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County. The interviews serve as a road map illustrating what local African-Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today.
Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive The history of North America's longest running festival for independent and experimental film is told through programs, posters, flyers, photographs, newspaper articles and original interviews.
Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now Online collection of over 130 articles from the Ann Arbor Observer covering a wide variety of local history topics, fully searchable and browsable by subject. Also has an image gallery of historic Ann Arbor photos.
Ann Arbor Police Department History An online exhibit of the history of the Ann Arbor Police Department. Includes full-text of True Crimes and the History of the AAPD, The History of the Outdoor Range and hundreds of photographs and images of memorabilia collected by the department since 1847.
Ann Arbor Summer Festival Archive Learn about the history of one of Ann Arbor's largest cultural events, featuring programs and posters from each year, contemporary newspaper articles, hundreds of photos, and original interviews with past Festival directors.
Downtown A2 Historical Street Exhibit Program Tour the permanent sidewalk exhibits at sixteen landmark sites throughout downtown Ann Arbor. Includes full-text and keyword access to an image database of hundreds of images from each location.
The Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders Who are the people who made Ann Arbor the city we all know and love? From the earliest pioneers to twentieth-century philanthropists, here are the stories of businessmen and women, visionaries and artists, educators and entrepreneurs, doctors, ministers, and mayors.
Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came to Town Learn about a piece of Ann Arbor's radical past with photos, essays, newspaper articles, the entire run of the Ann Arbor Sun, and original interviews. This website documents the activities of John Sinclair, the day John Lennon and Stevie Wonder played a concert in Ann Arbor, how an Ann Arborite ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and the actions the White Panther/Rainbow People's Party.
Making of Ann Arbor Discover the history of Ann Arbor through full-text access to several books and several image collections. Includes a collection of postcards, historic buildings, advertisements, and maps of early Ann Arbor.
Old News Read newspapers from Ann Arbor's past to learn more about the places around you. Old News includes over 115,000 articles and photos from the Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor Courier, Ann Arbor Argus, and Ann Arbor Argus-Democrat. Read full issues of 19th century newspapers and browse or search articles and photos from the 20th.
pictureAnnArbor An online photo collection of Ann Arbor past and present. Search for images of Ann Arbor and add some of your own.
Signal of Liberty Ann Arbor's prominent abolitionist newspaper, with issues from 1841-1847 now available online. Browse the articles in the original or search all newspaper items.
University Musical Society: A History of Great Performances This collection includes full text searching and browsing access to the first 100 years of historical programs from University Musical Society concerts, as well as hundreds of photographs from their 131-year history.
Ypsilanti Gleanings Ypsilanti Gleanings is the official publication of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, which through painstakingly-researched articles, first-hand accounts, and historical photographs, presents a clear picture of the Ypsilanti that once was and still is all around us. Explore this online archive by searching, browsing by issue or browsing by subject, and check out the image gallery of photographs and illustrations from the collection of the YHS.

We've also invited some local historians to contribute to a local history blog, which begins below. Thanks for your interest, and enjoy!

The First Movie Theatre in Ann Arbor

orpheumorpheumDid you know the first movie theatre in Ann Arbor was built on Main Street?

Have you ever wondered how Ann Arbor got its name? Did you know the University of Michigan began its tradition in Detroit? Are you curious about Ann Arbor's activism roots? Or maybe you want to know about the history behind the arts, music, and culture in your city.

You can find out all of these facts and more on AADL's Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders.

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Halloween ClownHalloween Clown

Don’t look now, Ann Arbor, but just in time for Halloween, we’ve unearthed a few frightening photos from our Oldnews vault.

Did you know Ann Arbor had a Haunted Tavern? Or that a roving band of Devil Dogs terrorized Tree Town in the late 1930s?

In 1945, a pirate, some clowns and...a singing cornstalk(?) took over the former WPAG radio station at Main and Liberty, and in 1952 Ann Arbor Civic Theatre conjured up this disturbing scene during its production of The Spider.

We've also exhumed ample evidence that witches, goblins and other monster mites haunted the Burns Park neighborhood in 1951 and 1952. Similar creatures appear in a 1957 JCC Halloween Parade. And in 1964, this vampire stalked Art Fair booths.

So click if you dare, Ann Arbor. You can browse all things Halloween or search the past at Oldnews - your gateway to Ann Arbor's hair-raising history.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Salk!

Dr. Jonas SalkDr. Jonas Salk

In honor of Dr. Jonas Salk's 100th birthday, we've just posted a few photographs and articles from our archives celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Jonas Salk, the American medical researcher and virologist who spent time at the University of Michigan doing critical research on the influenza virus before inventing the first successful polio vaccine.

On April 12, 1955, the vaccine was declared to be safe and effective and within weeks was being shipped around the world.

Get Out and Vote in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014

We're only one week away from the General Election for Federal, State and Local Offices and Ballot Proposals. You can view your sample ballot, check your polling location and much more at Michigan Votes.

The Michigan League of Women Voters Nonpartisan Voter Guide is available at all library branches and online. League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area candidate forums can be viewed online as well.

Here's a few tips for making voting easy:
-Don’t forget to bring your photo ID to vote. Voters who do not have acceptable photo ID will be required to sign an affidavit in order to vote.
-Peak voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Voters who want to avoid long lines are encouraged to vote during midday hours.
-Polling place hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you are standing in line by 8 p.m. then you are eligible to vote.
-The City Clerk's Office is open Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 8am to 2pm to accept in-person requests for absentee ballots.
-Ann Arbor Public Schools are closed on Election Day. Polling places located within schools are open.

Washtenaw County election results are televised on Community Television Network’s CitiTV Channel 19 beginning at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014—after the polls close—and will continue throughout the night.

Middle Earth Rotates Out of the University Scene: AADL Talks To Owner Cynthia Shevel

Long, long ago in a galaxy known as the '60s, Ann Arbor's first head shop, Middle Earth , opened in a 2nd floor walkup on Liberty Street and then moved to its iconic location on South U.

Owner Cynthia Shevel sat down with Old News last year to talk about the history of Middle Earth, how it changed over the years and the challenges independent shops face in Tree Town.

Cynthia announced the closing of Middle Earth yesterday saying that with the closing of the Selo/Shevel Gallery a few months back, she and longtime partner Elaine Selo will begin a new phase of their lives.

Falling Water Books & Collectibles to Close

Falling Water on AshleyFalling Water on Ashley

The owners of one of Ann Arbor's signature stores, Falling Water Books & Collectibles, just announced they will be closing after 26 years. Here's a 1988 article and photograph (left) from the store's grand opening in July of that year. Falling Water was first located at 318 S. Ashley St., and later moved to Main St.

Lurie Terrace Celebrates 50 Years

On a cold and windy October 9, 1964, a small group of speakers and community members gathered in front of the new senior citizen apartment high-rise, Lurie Terrace, to celebrate its completion. No one was more instrumental in bringing Lurie Terrace to completion than Shata Ling. Mrs. Ling founded the Ann Arbor Senior Citizens Guild in 1956 and worked tirelessly on behalf of seniors throughout her active career in Ann Arbor. Lurie Terrace was named in honor of Mrs. Ling's mother, Ann Przzan Lurie.

Lurie was one of the first affordable senior housing projects proposed in the U.S. In 1961 a site on W. Huron was selected and demolition of four homes began. Bricks from the Lorin Mills House were used to construct the patio at Lurie. Designed by local architect James H. Livingston the building featured twin Pentagon towers. The first resident to sign a lease at Lurie Terrace came from a family with a long history in Ann Arbor, Pearl McOmber.

From the beginning, Lurie Terrace emphasized a vibrant and varied lifestyle for seniors with a workshop, a plant conservatory, small dining halls, library, men's club, even an in-house "Newsboy".

Lurie was not without controversy and in February, 1982, three years after a woman was denied admission because she was handicapped, the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Lurie's residency requirements that prohibited handicapped persons. Over the years, Lurie developed programs and social events that aimed at expanding horizons of all seniors in their community of apartments. Happy Birthday Lurie Terrace!

Tom Hayden at AADL

The Downtown Meeting Room was packed for Tom Hayden's lecture Monday evening, September 15.

Hayden, a former student at U-M was in Ann Arbor because U-M has recently purchased papers, photos and documents which detail his life as an activist. He stated that "history repeats itself if all parties aren't involved, even dissenters," in creating the future. He will be visiting the area once a year for 4-5 years to decipher his hand-written notes accurately because they include so many primary sources.

MLive reporter Janet Miller wrote a detailed story on his lecture you can find here.

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